”What does it take to get through?

    Imagini pentru counterclock sf fanzine

    CounterClock is being read in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Island, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine. I have few or no indication that it is being read in Albania, Andorra, BosniaHerzegovina, Czech Republic, Hungaria, Liechtenstein, Moldavia, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Slovakia, Serbia or in the Vatican.

    But it is not the countries per sé who read it, but the sf-fans in these countries, who read English.

    These sf-fans are often the same delegates at Eurocons who vote on where upcoming events are going to be held.

    Such as in Belfast this year, when it is going to be decided where the 2021 Eurocon is going to be.

    You can’t find ANY other publication in Europe, which is better targeted at interested sf-fans. Of course, the bid presentation at the business meeting of the ESFS is the ultimate trial.

    But in this moment, as I write this paragraph, a team from Italy and another team from Romania is in Montenegro to promote their Eurocon bids.

    I wonder how many participants from Montenegro will be in Belfast. I wouldn’t call it a complete waste of time, because now they contribute to the program of the sf-convention in Bijelo Polje and it may create future interest (and readers) there. I also hope they have a good time and remember that we ultimately all are on the same side. But seriously.

    Wouldn’t it cost you less time, effort and money to present your bid RIGHT HERE? I speak to future Eurocon bids. Consider it!

    You have a hard time to promote any international European event better than by being visible in Eurosmofs FB-group, on the European SF Portal and in CounterClock.

    Nothing prevents you from running the same information in SF2 Concatenation.

    With this said. Let’s compare the upcoming bids for 2021.

    The Italian Eurocon in Fiuggi 2009 was a disappointment. A thin program, good food, but low attendance. Not the best publicity for Italian fandom.

    At the time, I decided to oppose another Italian Eurocon.

    In particular, if they were pitched against a Polish, Croatian or Romanian bid, since these fandoms participate to a wider extent in building bridges across their borders in Europe. Perhaps you recall Tricon 2010, which was a Polish-Czech and Slovakian collaboration?

    Romanians are making more efforts to be part of the
    European sf-community. I was inclined to throw myself into the blend with long smoffing experience, helping the Romanians to make their event a success. What I found was they don’t need me!

    More Italians have to realize, that Europe is no longer an archipelago of isolated language islands.

    *1 SPACERS Electronic Music / SF Short film festival.

    * Both teams can be expected to deliver solid Souvenir- and Program-booklets.

    * The distance between Rijeka (Croatia) and Trieste (Italy) is less than between Fiuggi and Rome. It is as much neutral zone as it can be, but still counts as an eastside event.

    The east-west alternating choices experienced something of a hick-up in the years 2016-2019 with Barcelona (Spain), Dortmund (Germany), Amiens (France) and Belfast (UK). Traditionally the Eurocon is supposed to alternate between former east and former west-side of the iron curtain. The curtain has lifted, the economic differences haven’t. The westside is still considerably more expensive.

    * Italian fandom has progressed since 2009. Gino Lucrezi, is a rare Italian sf-fan-non-pro who speaks English and participates internationally in the scene. He wrote the presentation of Italy for the W75 souvenir book. Then we have Francesco Verso, who is a fan-pro (translated into English & Chinese), but well-versed in fannish endevaours and with excellent understanding of sf-fandoms ways.

    Imagini pentru EUROCON 2021 AN ITALIAN BID logo


    ”Deep Space One is a cultural association promoting science fiction in all of its forms: literature, movies, TV series, role playing games and videogames.

    DS1 began its activities more than 20 years ago organizing Deepcon, a convention with international guests as writers, actors, screenwriters, producers, as well as Italian Space Agency and NASA scientists, astronauts and science experts. In 2009, we organized a successful Eurocon under the European Science Fiction Society flag.

    Deepcon takes place in Ambasciatori Place Hotel in Fiuggi, a thermal city about 60 kilometers from Rome [60 by air, 85 by car]. The hotel is wonderful, boasting excellent conference facilities and food, and the ambience is very friendly.

    During the years, we had fans coming from almost every European country, USA, China, Canada and Australia.

    Fiuggi is a small historic city and has been famous for over 8 centuries for the therapeutical properties of its water.

    Ambasciatori Place Hotel boasts a modern spa, equipped for many kinds of treatments.

    Furthermore Fiuggi is at short distance from interesting historic and archeologic sites, including monasteries such as Casamari Abbey, Certosa di Trisulti with its library, medieval manuscripts and an ancient pharmacy, Fossanova Abbey and the famous Montecassino Abbey. Anagni still intact medieval town and Alatri enormous walls dating back to VII a.C. are also close and can be easily visited.

    The short distance from the international airports in Rome (Fiumicino or Ciampino) allow everybody to reach Fiuggi in a short time. With a modest charge, we are able to supply a shuttle to and from the airport for groups and individuals.

    The EuroCon program: 90% of panels will be in English and 10% in Italian, as we will also host Italcon, the Italian SF Convention. Many panels will focus on Translated European Science Fiction and will be supervised by Francesco Verso, multiple award Italian SF writer and editor of the multicultural project Future Fiction, partner of the convention.

    The guests that have already confirmed their presence (if Italy will host Eurocon) are: Ian McDonald (Northern Ireland), Lavie Tidhar (Israel), Rachel Cordasco (USA), Ugo Bellagamba (France), Neil Gaiman (UK), a Science Fiction Special Guest from China, David Lloyd, Hanne Paine, Lolita Fatjo, Eric Stillwell, an actor/actress from a SF TV Show, Giampietro Casasanta (Physics, Concordia Research Station, Antarctica). The event will receive the patronage of the Italian Space Agency. Probable guest: Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano.

    The event will receive the patronage of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics. Guest: Marco Casolino, Lead Researcher.

    We consider the atmosphere to be an exclusive feature of our convention. From year to year friendships and relations are made that go beyond a common passion. The comfortable sofas in front of the bar are often used by fans chatting until late at night with their favorite writer or actor. Everyone is invited to take part in it, in the best spirit of Italian hospitality.” – Francesco Verso

    On On June 1st I landed in Timisoara and took a taxi to Dumbravitsa.

    The fare for the cab was equal to two TAFF-votes. The currency, a few Lei I extracted from the first cash-dispenser I came across. I didn’t know that I could simply flash my credit card in the tram and use it as a ticket. But the cabs have their fare on display on the outside of their cars and thus you are unlikely to be ripped off.

    For directions and tourist information, you can use English or German. Both languages seem to be understood by many in this part of Romania (which once had been under Austrian regime).

    On TV the Romanians watch their foreign programs with subtitles. This creates a generally excellent English proficiency. Last time there was a Eurocon in Timisoara was 1994. It had an attendance close to 1500.

    I was going to meet Darius Hupov, who is the head of the 2021 Eurocon Romanian bid team.

    Darius Hupov was a young man helping out at the Eurocon in Timisoara 1994. A fan of the old generation of Romanian sf-fans. Now he is a dentist and a man with a vision for the future of sf fandom.

    Romania has, like most European fandoms, an aging population of active fans.

    But in neighbouring Croatia they seem to have no such problem. There cosplay is the great attractor.

    Darius is confident he can also attract a younger population. By including what they are interested in. He aims at a convention with plenty of variety. – There should be something for everyone.

    Adrian Bancu and Adrian Chifu are in charge of one of the parallel running events, the SPACERS festival of electronic music.

    Just to make sure, that we understand electronic music the same way, I had an extensive dissection of Adrian Bancu’s understanding of electronic music. I met my match. Not only that. He was better informed than I was. This happens rarely and can only be if someone is devoting his entire life to it. But then, both Adrians are electronic musicians themselves and Chifu is also known for his artful photography skills. We agreed that Tangerine Dreams best days were over after Johannes Schmoelling’s departure in 1985.

    Another parallel running event will be Dumbraviţas SF Short Film Festival, which was a pleasant surprise for me, now that I started to cover short films in my review section.

    Dumbraviţa is so closely connected with Timisoara that as a tourist you won’t be able to tell when you exit one and enter the other part of Timisoara. The mayor of the municipal signed an agreement with Darius Hupov.
    Dumbraviţa will have a reputation outside Romania. For hosting the annual SF Short Film festival, and hopefully also the Eurocon and for being tourist friendly.

    The municipal is already known within the country for being the best managed one. Prosperity goes both ways. Make sure you have a prosperous population and you will have a steady income from taxes. Squeeze people and one enterprise after the other shuts down until you have nothing left to squeeze.

    I can see the opposite right where I live here in Italy and paradoxically enough, the Romanians look better off. We walked around the site where the convention will be held. On one side, there is a nearby forest for leisurly walks. In front of it an area which would be perfectly suitable for camping.

    Both German and Dutch convention attendees are known to enjoy camping. It will be investigated if it is possible to set up tents and campers near the convention-building. On crawling distance, should you be so tired after the program that you can’t stand anymore.

    In the other direction, you’ll find a Pizzeria of good repute and a small shop for daily necessities. Children can be out of their parents hair during the convention. Simona Hupov, Darius’ wife is a professional in taking care of minors. And she loves doing it. She is setting up entertainment for the younger generation, who won’t be interested in what we older guys are doing. Umfortunately it was a bit short notice to meet the entire core team.

    But I also had the pleasure of shaking hand with their IT-guy Daniel Timariu, recipient of a Chrysalis Award for emerging writers in 2018. The Timisoara/ Dumbraviţa fan-group is a solid fan-group revolving around HELION SF, one of their front figures being Lucian-Vasile Szabo who was nominated for an ESFS Award as best promoter in 2018 alongside Francesco Verso. The winner in the catgory was Jukka Halme, Finland.


    SF-Fandom in Romania is alive and well. It is not only Timisoara-fandom with HELION. At Eurocons we have in the past often encountered Eugen S Lenghel from Bucharest. For some years now, he’s been busy with the International Science Fiction Festival Râșnov which this year will be held 19-21 July at the castle Bran, near Râșnov. For those of you who do not know what Bran is famous for, I will here reveal that it was the home of Vlad Țepeș (pronounced Tsepesch). In western popular culture his reputation has been totally distorted. Vlad the Impaler, aka Count Dracula is infact a Romanian folk-hero. I can assure you, they are not blood-suckers.

    From Brașov comes Gazeta SF, edited by Alexandru Lamba. In Bucharest we have Lucian Cristian Oancea, publishing a semi-professional fanzine by the short name ZIN.

    In Bucharest lives also Roberto Quaglia, who is not only fluent in Italian and Romanian, but also in English, German and Russian. The only Italian so far, to have been recipient of a BSFA Award. Let’s not forget Cristian Corneliu Tamaș, the fan behind the European SF Portal.

    And this barely scratches the surface of Romanian sf-fandom.

    And of course, also Romania has a selection of upcoming talented writers, such as Catalina Fometici who wrote ”The Empire Made of Glass” (Imperiul de sticla – not yet translated into English). Daniel Timariu said this about ”Empire Made of Glass”: ”Alma, the Demon Slayer, Princess of the Elweise Dynasty in Aakra wakes up after a thousand and two hundred years on a modern hospital bed. Who is she? What unfulfilled destiny has thrown her across time, into a present so different from her world, yet confronted with similar dangers? An intrigue built with craftsmanship, a complex story, in a heroic and at the same time a melodramatic universe. Princess Alma has to face difficult attempts, caught in a web of secrets, plotting and personal ambitions of ancient entities, wizards, demons, and men, in confrontation with the present, just as dark.” Oh, yes and Catalina Fometici is also working with the Timisoara-team.

    I will not be in Belfast this year, but my hope is to experience a 2021 Eurocon in Timisoara/Dumbravita, Romania.” – Wolf von Witting

    Article reproduced from CounterClock, by the kind permission of the author, Wolf von Witting. We are thanking him.

    Wolf is a SF fan, fan-historian, filker, smof 1980-2000 and fan artist.

    Published fanzines in German, Swedish and English languages.

    Most notably present in German language ANDROMEDA nr 111 in 1984.

    In Swedish; Tid & Rymd, club-magazine of Sigma Terra Corps and in English language CounterClock since 1999. TAFF candidate 2015 and 2016.


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